By Charles Bursey Sr.
Many of you will probably wonder what this article will be about, because the title really references two separate skills—or so I’m told. I’ve been told many times during my career that sales and service are two totally different positions. However, I will always remember being told by my mentor, Al, that a customer will always listen and buy from a technician who can explain the reason for the service call, and do so on a level the customer can understand.
Let’s create a possible technician sales example.
- The technician arrives at a home to answer a no-heat call and after a short time determines that a part has failed.
- He informs the customer that a control has failed causing the no heat call.
- The customer then asks two questions: Is it covered by the contract, and if not how much is the part? Next, a salesman is called, correct? So, are the technician and sales positions really separate?
I know that not everyone is cut out for sales. I also feel that when it comes to hiring a technician, we always ask the usual: years in the trade, HVAC qualified and certifications and licenses. I have said for many years, though, that if a technician is really committed to his company and profession, he or she can often create added sales for the company, simply by using what I call the greatest gift to mankind—the Power of Observation. For example, do we always look for leaks from the relief valve or piping, the lack of pressure on the boiler or the humidifier or electronic air cleaner that is no longer providing the service that was intended?
During my years, as often as time would permit, I always made sure that our technicians attended as many product training programs (either on site or away) as possible regardless of the cost. The reward for this was better service to the customer, fewer mis-diagnostic calls and costly credits. I have also found that more companies on an annual basis have registered their techs for the many training programs offered at the annual Oil and Energy Service Professionals conventions. Just as an added FYI, this 2016 OESP convention will be held at the Foxwood Resort & Casino in Ledyard, Conn., on May 22-26 and I’m told that this convention will have an expanded venue. Check their website for details.
Returning to the topic of service techs and sales, I hope that technicians will be given the opportunity to learn how to do a better job in sales, so that they will be more versatile for the company that employs them and be better trained for new opportunities. I have seen sales opportunities presented to service technicians that have turned out to be very rewarding to the technician and company. Much the same as technicians have elevated to the roll of service manager.
I have also more recently been asked if supply companies will become more focused on Web sales than real sales personnel. I certainly don’t know, but millions of dollars are being processed via internet sales from companies that once did all sales over the phone or the insurance companies that once made house calls. In closing, let me say that in my opinion, technicians are, in their own way, salesmen!
Charlie Bursey began his long career in the oil heating industry in 1963. He has delivered coal, kerosene and oil and serviced heating and cooling equipment. He has also managed service departments, worked for a manufacturer and currently works with F.W. Webb, Warwick, R.I. He is a recipient of the Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals’ prestigious Hugh McKee Award for making an outstanding contribution to the fuel oil industry; having had an understanding and cooperation with his/her fellow man; and having unselfishly aided the industry in education and related activities. CONTACT: ChasBursey@aol.com